The UK’s Defence and Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has developed a better-performing antenna for use by the military.
The portable antenna has been developed to eliminate the proliferation of antennas used in military equipment.
Dstl’s wideband antenna is made of a cylindrical 2cm polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) polymer ‘top hat’ with a copper tape exterior.
The tape is used to carry the signal to a ‘10p-sized’ piece of copper attached to the top of the cylinder where it is radiated out.
Traditionally, the coaxial cable that carries the signal is directly attached to the radiating component of the antenna. However, Toby Proctor, technology transfer executive at Ploughshare Innovations, told The Engineer: ‘This antenna goes up inside the PTFE core but doesn’t actually physically touch any of the copper.’
He added that this changes the way the current on the cable interacts with the radiating part of the antenna.
‘So rather than having a simple radiating element like you would see on a car, it actually changes the profile of the antenna.’
This change in the profile enables the antenna to communicate more efficiently over several bandwidths.
‘The transmitter has excellent power efficiency. In this case, more than 95 per cent of the power that goes into the antenna is transmitted as signal rather than lost as heat,’ said Proctor. ‘For comparison, a ceramic handset antenna in a typical smartphone will run at between 70 and 80 per cent efficiency, depending on the design.’
Ploughshare Innovations, which licenses IP from Dstl, is looking for a partner to take the patented design concept and adapt it for commercial applications.
Civilian applications could include routers, smart utility meter reading terminals and media streaming devices.